Cars of 1998
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When in October 1930 the Bentley 8 Litre was launched at London's Olympia Motor Show the new model in the ranking of luxury automobiles offered by British manufacturers instantly occupied a top-position. With a wheelbase of 13 feet (optional a variant with 'only' 12 feet was available) sufficient space for coachwork of large dimensions was offered and the overall lengths of the mighty car very often did exceed 20 feet. In the United Kingdom no other manufacturer had in its portfolio a car of more capacity or with higher engine output. The big-volume six-cylinder-in-line engine did provide enormous power. Neither weight penalty of bodies fitted with an array of luxury features nor the fact height and lines of contemporary coachwork was not dictated by aerodynamic considerations did hinder this model to achieve 100+ mph top speed. In combination with a completely new developed 4-speed gearbox the designer W.O. Bentley had succeeded in making sure the engine's power was transformed into rapid acceleration.
After production had started the man whose name was that of the marque did choose the second chassis finished, i.e. #YF5002, to become registered in his name as his personal motor car. Thus, his creation was subject of permanent testing – and he had a most suitable model for "PR-purposes". That is reflected by this Bentley 8 Litre, #YF5002, becoming subject of a Road Test published in "The Autocar", issue from 5th December 1930. The verdict was expressed in the headline: "Motoring in its Very Highest Form: The Tremendous Performance". It cannot surprise the impressive power of the engine made such an impact because W.O. Bentley for his 'company car' had opted on not too opulent coachwork. Just the opposite – from H.J. Mulliner had been ordered a body consequently tailored to fit an owner-driver: A closed-coupled 4-door saloon (no separation) with two seats to the front and a bench for 2 passengers in the rear compartment where occasionally even 3 persons might be accommodated. Neither winders for the side-windows nor window-mechanisms in the doors; the chief-engineer of Bentley Motors made do with divided sliding sidelights in front and rear doors, too.
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The quality of the interior was – inevitably for a motor car that was at the pinnacle of 'Upper Crust' – in no way spartan but down to the least detail to the standard for highest demands. That is obvious for example as regards the headlamps: Although for such items when imported from a foreign producer the Customs' tariff was almost prohibitively expensive the choice had been units made in Germany with glasses that came from "Carl Zeiss, Jena".
The financial position of the works was weak due to insufficient financial means in combination with horrendous expenses for racing activities – and it didn't help either that Woolf Barnato as the major shareholder with an attitude that in later years would be described as illegal let the company bleed. The situation didn't permit to invest much in development of the Bentley 8 Litre. Time became a crucial factor, when Bentley Motors ran into serious difficulties during the period after Black Friday's Wall Street Crash did demolish the economy on the other side of the Atlantic, too. After the Bentley 8 Litre shown here, #YF5002, a mere 98 cars followed and the overall production figure reached 100. The company called in the receiver and that meant the end for this model and at that stage for Bentley Motors as an independent motor car manufacturer, too.
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